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Collaboration Across Networks & Leading by Influence: To me, this calls for students to be comfortable working with others in a group context. In the 21st century economy, students need to be able to work with a variety of different perspectives and personalities. I interpret leading by influence to be finding ways to keep a group on track and focused without establishing yourself firmly as a leader. In work settings with a complex net of hierarchies and job titles all interacting on any one project, it is vitally important for students to know how to do their best to ensure a successful result for their group while simultaneously avoiding being seen as overly aggressive or controlling. In my classroom, group activities with defined roles and use of online resources to collaborate outside of the classroom will be central to many activities, so students can become more comfortable working in these settings.
Agility and Adaptability: In my year of experience with teaching, I have discovered the importance of Julie Rich’s favorite F-word: “Flexibility”. In my own classroom, I have had trouble trying to bring in outside content (subtitles not working on videos in foreign languages, etc). In any job that relies upon technology, agility and adaptability, the ability to quickly adjust to changing circumstances is vital if students are to succeed. In my classes, I can and have emphasized this by giving students options in assignments and by owning up when I have difficulties or don’t know an answer. This also lets me model how to be flexible in these situations so students have a model to follow.
Initiative and Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurial spirit is a key aspect of American society, as every politician is keen on mentioning a thousand times. In education, I feel this is doubly important. To promote this behavior in my classroom, I will make a point of incorporating significant leeway in my assignments for students to take the initiative and move in new directions. Furthermore, I will make a point of emphasizing the idea of students finding their own way and finding solutions for their own problems. While some students may struggle with this, I want to support their development of these skills, and I will emphasize frequently that they can only stand to benefit from advocating from themselves. This is something I have seen a lot of in AVID classes I’ve worked in, and I think it’s important for all students.
Effective Written and Oral Communication: With all of the advances in communications of late, it’s interesting that many young people still struggle with their own ability to communicate with others. In the modern working world, everyone needs to be able to communicate with others. In class, using think write pair share activities and presentations as a final result of projects are two techniques I have employed to help my students brush up their oral communication skills. In terms of writing, the study of the social sciences has been centered around literacy and writing skills for years. Having students write essays, think write pair share activities, and quickwrites to organize their thinking are all techniques I employ to develop written communication.
Accessing and Analyzing Information: Having the Internet at your fingertips is a tremendous resource, but only if you know how to properly use it. In the 21st century, I think it’s vital for students to know how to access information, but it is even more important for them to be able to analyze and assess that information. In my classes, I emphasize this by providing students with both reputable sources for research projects, encouraging them to find more resources they can use for those projects, and providing them with skills they can use to determine whether or not those additional resources are actually usable.
Curiosity and Imagination: Having all the technology and advancement of the world at your fingertips is useless if you can’t find a use for it. It’s important that students be encouraged to explore and think creatively. I think Wagner really should have set curiosity and imagination aside in a category of their own, because I believe that this is the single most important of any of his points by a wide margin. This is the skill that makes all of the other skills helpful or in any way beneficial in the 21st century. In class, I give students many activities that call upon them to think outside of the box, or to put their own stamp on a project. For example, in my ITU, the Campaign Trail activity calls upon them to create a politician and his campaign from nothing more than their own ideas of what those should be. Seeing a wide variety of different creations come from the same assignment is a sign to me that I have succeeded at helping my students become innovative thinkers who are equipped to address any concerns they might have as they move through life.